GOOGLE HAS ISSUED a stark warning in the aftermath of yesterday's decision by the EU to fine it €4.3bn for anti-competitive behaviour.
The company has suggested that it may not be able to keep Android a free operating system as a result of the ruling.
The company was told that its insistence on certain apps being bundled in with the Android operating system, which has hitherto been offered free to OEMs, is unlawful.
However, such a decision bites at the heart of Google's very business model for Android, and could mean we start to see Microsoft's 'chestburster' apps as the default on some models of phone, giving a cuckoo-like second change to its mobile operating aspirations.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai responded to the ruling in a blog post, pointing out that the average Android user will probably install their own apps anyway, and can easily uninstall system apps.
That is something of a misnomer, as in fact many OEMs only allow you to uninstall updates to system apps, not remove them altogether.
Pichai also points out that the EU decision doesn't take into account Apple's effect on the market and its importance as offering the competition the EU craves.
Even Amazon is singled out as a defence, with Pichai pointing out that Fire OS, which is a lipstick-pigged Android variant, demonstrates the level of control and choice offered by the platform.
If OEMs are charged for each version of Android, it could also make it even harder to get long-term support for your shiny toys. In some cases, it's hard enough already, mentioning no names.
Pichai reassures readers that "with size comes responsibility" and that "we've shown we're willing to make changes" but that the decision is an endorsement for proprietary software over open source.
Ending with the maxim, "We intend to appeal", he criticises the decision as an attack on the very concept of an open platform and whilst his critics would argue that "open" is itself open to interpretation, there's a determination there that to "upset the balance" will have some serious consequences. μ
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